Hedge wizards and scholastic wizards, and a list of inspiration

So, I’m not doing any actual game writing today since I’m having an evening off and I’m spending it with beer and Tom Waits.

One of the usual things you find in fantasy games is the wizard in the tower. I wanted to do that differently, since the idea that wizards engage in some sort of vaguely or not defined at all magical research is kind of antithetical to adventuring. If you’re a wizard who’s into reading books and cooking meth or whatever, why would you ever go adventuring? The answer to this is that they don’t do that. Any serious wizard learns their magic at an actual school of magic. These guys and gals are called scholastic wizards because of their allegiance to an organization or priesthood. Most of these organizations do have doors open for almost anyone willing to abide by their rules. The Priesthood of Bifrost mentioned in the previous post is a pretty perfect example of how magical organizations work: they got a patron, they are mercenary to some degree and open to the general public.

Organization, like all structures, give adventure hooks. Your fire mage might get tasked into tracking down and arresting a fire mage who’s serving a bandit group who have managed to make the Crown angry. Or your Karelian Forestwalker can get told to go kill someone who has taught Forestwalk to Swedish troops. That’s treason, you know. You might venture back to your teachers to learn new tricks, you might get told to show the ropes to a young noble willing to pay for the lessons.

Scholastic magic is powerful at higher levels. The Priesthood of Bifrost is a big deal because they know a trick that’s pretty much the equivalent of teleportation which has made the Swedish Empire so damn powerful. It still has limitations and the serious downside to higher level scholastic magic is that you lose your ability to practice any other sort of magic. And there tends to be unfortunate side effects to concentrated magic power.

Also since I wanted everyone to get access to magic, practically any character in the game can start out with knowing a few iconic spells, like Magic Missile. SotE is a setting where low magic is fairly commonplace. Some people concentrate their efforts on learning these basic charms and they’re commonly known as hedge wizards. Some of them are really good at stuff that doesn’t apply to adventurers but is still a big deal to them, like blessing livestock and helping with childbirth and birth control and such. They can learn the basic spells of scholastic magic, as long as they find someone willing to teach the tricks to them. Lots of Skalds and Bards know some rudimentary magic.

And then there was the list of inspiration no one asked for:

  • Skyrim. You know, the computer RPG. It’s so damn pretty.
  • Tolkien. A certain vibe I want to go for is that the setting is post-Tolkien. The Elves and Dwarves are still around, but the Old Enemy is dead and even those who won the war against the Old Enemy are gone too. They’re the lesser sons of greater sires.
  • Basic D&D. The feel that’s there. This is the biggest one.
  • Tom Waits.
  • My co-author Artemis Kelosaari, who’s been awesome.
  • John Wick’s 7th Sea. It got kind of stupid towards the end of the product line but great game.
  • Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror. A great book, worth a read.
  • The guys I constantly pester online for opinions.
  • Motörhead.
  • Peter Englund’s books about the Swedish Imperial period.
  • The Blue Rose RPG. Really progressive.
  • Dungeon World. Not my cup of tea per se, but really impressive.
  • Same goes for 13th Age.
  • Pretty much anything Greg Stolze ever did.
  • Fenno-Scandinavian folklore.
  • Anita Sarkeesian.
  • This can of cheap lager and red Pall Malls. I am so willing to advertise cigarettes covertly in this blog.
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